Restorative Yoga as Complementary Treatment

Written by Carmela Cattuti. MA, LPN, Kripalu Certified.

Restorative yoga is a practice that can assist us in healing for any health concern. Whether we experience everyday anxiety or breast cancer, a gentle aware yoga practice will support well-being and balance our energy and reduce anxiety, especially if we are undergoing treatment for any health issue.

relaxing child pose

Most studies on the web state that yoga was beneficial on some level for many medical conditions from high blood pressure to stress. A pilot study done with breast cancer patients at the Department of Internal Medicine, Salem, NC, stated that patients who practiced yoga regularly demonstrated a significant improvement in fatigue.

A study conducted at Department of General Internal Medicine at the University of California examined the effect of a restorative yoga practice on metabolic syndrome. Signs and symptoms of this disorder are high blood pressure, excess body fat around the midsection, and high insulin levels. Participants participated in a restorative yoga program that improved overall well-being.

What was not examined in these studies is that when we are in need we can do as much yoga as we desire to improve our health and maintain a balanced mind to quicken healing. When we experience dis-ease and are treated by the traditional medical community we often feel out-of-control.

To reverse this imbalance we can always choose to do more yoga. We can control this part of the healing process. This is an important psychological benefit of restorative yoga; if there is no one to talk to there is our yoga practice to soothe, balance, and energize us. It is a completely independent system of healing. There are many ways to implement a yoga practice regardless of level of illness; it can be done even if we are bedridden.

Like any style of yoga there are many forms of restorative classes. Some teachers prefer a more active practice with few props, others make use of props and the wall for support. As students we need to choose the restorative practice that is appropriate for our needs in the moment.

If we have a major illness we might think we need an extremely supported class, but that is not necessarily true. We need to be open to experimentation in regard to choosing a restorative yoga class. We will know we have chosen correctly when our anxiety levels decline and we can take full breaths to change how we react to every day situations.

Restorative yoga balances all the systems in the body. Once stress is released from the nervous system then all the other systems begin to function at top capacity. The practice is about release and staying present while this process happens.

Works Cited:

Danhauer SC. Psychooncology. Restorative yoga for women with breast cancer: findings from a randomized pilot study. PubMed.gov., April 18, 2009. Web. PubMed.gov- Restorative Yoga in Adults with Metabolic Syndrome.

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